What We Do
Our work focuses on identifying specific genes that may lead to severe and early weight gain. For many people, environmental or lifestyle changes contribute to weight gain. But some people put on weight more easily than others which can be strongly influenced by our genes.
Our aim is to find the genes that influence weight so we can find better ways to prevent and treat weight problems such as obesity. Our approach involves investigating the genes that might cause some children to become severely obese at a very young age.
It is difficult to know where to look as there are many thousands of genes so this work can take a long time. This can be made a little easier if the doctor is able to ask about a person’s medical history and about their family, which can give us clues as to which genes we should look at in the laboratory.
When we identify a gene that we think is likely to be the cause of someone’s weight problem, we have to find out what it does and why it is not working. This involves our team in the laboratory who test the function of the protein made by the gene. It is also why we often ask patients to come to Cambridge to help us with our investigations.
Some of our scientists investigate how the genes work in the brain, how they send chemical signals that regulate our weight and test out potential ways to rescue the genes that aren’t functioning to find new treatments.